Hippodrome celebrations continue with youth production

First look: In rehearsals for Birmingham Hippodrome’s West Side Story.

In just two weeks’ time, Birmingham Hippodrome will present its first home-grown youth production as a fresh new version of the classic musical West Side Story comes to the main stage from 29th–31st August.

The first rehearsal images of the forty local young performers from across the West Midlands have been released ahead of the opening night on 29th August.

After extensive rounds of auditions and over one thousand applicants, the exceptional cast of young people aged 14-25 will bring the legendary musical to life in an exciting first of its kind production marking the theatre’s 120th birthday.

Leading the cast as the star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, are Alex Cooke (15) from Kingswinford and Kamilla Fernandes (18) from Coventry. They are joined by Ruby Hewitt (19) from Harborne as Anita, Gibsa Bah (18) from Great Barr as Barnardo, Matthew Pandya (18) from Coventry as Riff, Olivia Allen (21) from Harborne as Anybodys and Carter Smith (16) from Yardley as Chino.

Joining the young company are four Birmingham Hippodrome staff members who will take on the adult character roles; Benjamin Jones will swap Visitor Services for the role of Gladhand, Marketing Officer Chris Cooper will play Lieutenant Schrank, Visitor Services Administrator Nicola Entwistle will play the role of Officer Krupke and Hippodrome Young Poet, Hannah Swingler will play the role of Doc.

The creation of West Side Story will be overseen by a professional creative team which includes Matt Hawksworth (Director & Choreographer), Paul Murphy (Conductor & Musical Director), Sarah Burrell (Assistant Musical Director), Ruth Saeger (Assistant Choreographer), Al Parkinson (Designer), Philip Gladwell (Lighting Designer), Rachel Baynton (Costume Designer) and Olly Steel (Sound Designer).

Fiona Allan, Birmingham Hippodrome Artistic Director and Chief Executive added; “It is fitting that we mark our 120th birthday by funding a major new production, giving back to young people in our community. West Side Story remains just as relevant now as when it was first written, and holds many parallels we can still see in our everyday lives.

“Our director, Matt Hawksworth has drawn together a tremendously experienced professional creative team, who will ensure that the company experience all aspects of mounting a major musical in the large scale.

“Our birthday celebrations are headlined with the strapline Then, Now, Always -this production will encompass this message in its entirety. Then being the staging of this classic musical, Now is bringing a new production to our main stage, and Always is the hugely talented cast of young people who are the performers and audience members of our theatre’s future.

“I can’t wait for the curtain to rise on this brilliant new adventure for our cast, creatives and Birmingham Hippodrome.”

West Side Story plays at Birmingham Hippodrome from Thursday 29th–Saturday 31st August. To book visit birminghamhippodrome.com or call 0844 338 5000 (4.5p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge).